It might be months, or years, or days—
I kept no count, I took no note—
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free;370
I asked not why, and recked not where;
It was at length the same to me,
Fettered or fetterless to be,
I learned to love despair.
And thus when they appeared at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage—and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:380
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watched them in their sullen trade
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill—yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learned to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends390
To make us what we are:—even I
Regained my freedom with a sigh.
- [Compare the well-known lines in Lovelace's "To Althea—From Prison"—
"Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage."]
- Here follows in the MS.—
Nor slew I of my subjects one— What sovereign
hath so little
yet so much hath